As Christians, we live in a country where religious persecution is rare, but Iím always amazed at how the mainstream media usually gives the benefit of doubt to the persecutors when Christians are involved in disputes concerning their exercise of faith. Case in point: The recent removal of a Fort Worth, Texas, bus rider for reading the Bible aloud to her children; Christine Lutz, a Seventh Day Adventist, was told by a Fort Worth Trinity Railway/Expressway bus driver that the bus was neither ďthe time nor the placeĒ for her to read the words of scripture to her kids.
When the story first broke, most media outlets seemed sympathetic to Lutz and her plight. However, within a few days, Lutz became viewed as the agitator by most media outlets, claiming that the bus driver had merely asked for Christine to not read so loudly. Lutz remains steadfast in her testimony that she was specifically asked to stop reading aloud from the Bible, and that the driver never asked her to simply lower her voice. Iíve listened to her give her account of what happened in a few different television interviews, and I found her story to be very believable.
I personally would probably not read my Bible aloud on public transportation, but that is exactly what makes faith such an important aspect of peoplesí lives. We all have our different ways of worship. I love to read and write about my faith every chance I get. I am not that interested or talented at speaking about my faith. Words on paper are where I feel the power of the Lord. This mother, Christine Lutz, obviously felt the strength of the Lord as she read Godís words to her children. Some paint for the Lord, some sing for the Lord, and others dance for the Lord. Of course those are only three simple examples of work people do to glorify their Creator; the list is truly endless.
News outlets have a duty to report what happens in out communities. They should, at the same time, work to find the truth as best they can. In almost all of the news reports I saw concerning Lutz being escorted off of the Fort Worth bus, not one of them interviewed any of the other passengers to find out exactly who is telling the truth. Instead, by omitting certain questions, or asking questions in a condescending manner, some news agencies attempted to paint Mrs. Lutz as another religious zealot, proselytizing in public venues.
Christians should always be aware that religious persecution can rear its ugly head Ė even in this great country Ė and be prepared to document such events. Christian teenagers attending Americaís public high school and college campuses will probably experience some kind of religious persecution in their lives, though it is usually minor compared to what is experienced elsewhere in the world. Document the facts when discrimination occurs. Look for witnesses who will stand firm when the truth is brought forward. We should not harass others for their lack of faith, and we should not suffer ridicule and discrimination from others when our faith becomes the heart of our personal character.